Saturday, June 29, 2013

Fennel Potato Mash


My love affair with fennel continues!  Sometimes a new recipe occurs to me because I lack the ingredients for what I wanted to make.  Sometimes it’s because I am feeling lazy and one dish that provides both the starch and vegetable for our meal appeals.  And other times, inspiration strikes when a search through the vegetable bin in my refrigerator turns up an ingredient I had forgotten I’d bought.  This particular dish resulted from all three.  An occurrence I liken to the confluence of the stars.  Because the resultant dish was delicious and fresh.  I hope you like it too.

Ingredients
About 10oz or 285g potatoes
2 medium bulbs fennel
2 generous tablespoons butter (or more, to taste)
1 3/4 oz or 50g freshly grated Parmesan or other hard cheese
Sea salt
Black pepper
Trim the tough green stalks off of the fennel bulbs.  Discard the tough stalks and mince the fronds.  Set aside.



Cut the hard root end off of the bulbs and slice them vertically.


Peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters.   I missed taking a photo of this step but I think you can handle it.


Put the potatoes and the sliced fennel into a pot of water with a teaspoon of salt and heat to boiling on the stove.   Cook until the fennel and potatoes are both fork tender.


Remove from the heat and drain off the water.  With a potato masher, mash the potatoes and fennel until they are as smooth as you normally like your mashed potatoes, adding in the butter and salt and pepper to taste.



Spoon it all into a serving dish.   Mix the Parmesan with the minced fennel fronds and scatter the mixture on top of the mashed potatoes and fennel.


Isn’t that pretty?  And it tastes good too!


Enjoy! 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Cupboard Tomato Mozzarella Salad




I know that is a strange name but I honestly couldn’t think of a better one.  This gorgeous salad is made mostly with ingredients from your kitchen cupboards, with the exception of fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and a little onion.   And perhaps a bit of chopped basil.  But look at the colors!

It’s great for a buffet table or to bring to a potluck because this salad just gets better after it sits a while.  So forgiving, beautiful and delicious.

Ingredients
1/4 large red onion
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice or vinegar
10.5 oz or 300g red grape tomatoes (I used NatureSweet Cherubs.)
10.5 oz or 300g yellow grape tomatoes (I used NatureSweet Sunbursts.)
1 jar (12 oz or 240g) marinated artichoke hearts
1 can (drained weight 6 oz or 170g) pitted black olives
1 can (15 oz or 425g) chickpeas or garbanzo beans
8 oz or 226g fresh ciliegine or cherry size mozzarella balls
1 can (14 oz or 400g – 7.5 oz or 212g drained) hearts of palm
Sea salt
Black pepper
A few leaves of fresh basil (optional)

Method
Slice your red onion very thinly and add to a salad bowl that will be big enough for all of your ingredients.   Pour in the juice or vinegar and set aside for a few minutes.


Open the jar of marinated artichokes and add them to the onion, with all of their marinade, along with the tomatoes and mozzarella.


Drain the cans of olives and chickpeas, rinsing the chickpeas if necessary, and add them to the salad bowl.


Drain the can of palm hearts and cut into pieces about the size of your tomatoes.


Add them into the bowl.


Toss and then sprinkle the whole bowl with sea salt.  Add black pepper to taste.


If you are adding basil, stack the leaves, roll them up and slice them thinly.  Add to the salad and toss again.  (This salad did actually have basil but, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to photograph that step.)

Bring to your sister’s house for a barbecue or wherever you have been fortunate enough to be invited.


Enjoy!



My mom took this one showing a little of the basil.  Thanks, Mom! 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Jalapeño Cheddar Muffins for #MuffinMonday


Anyone who has ever been a new kid in school will understand my overwhelmed feelings the first day I walked into the fourth grade classroom at St. Thomas More back in 1972.  I was nine years old and had been living overseas since I started school.  This Catholic grade school in Houston, Texas was just as foreign.  And I was one of the only children in the whole student body with divorced parents.  An oddity.  Every grade had two homerooms and each homeroom had 30 children.  So many more students than I was used to.  I gradually got to know the other girls and boys in class and joined the Girl Scouts.  I made friends with a small group of girls that are still among my best friends today.  We picked up a few more in high school to round out our gang.

Last weekend, instead of baking these cheesy spicy muffins for posting today, I was celebrating our collective fiftieth birthdays in the party city of New Orleans.   We rented a house in the French Quarter and worked our abs by laughing harder and more often in those three days than I have laughed for years.  There is nothing like a group of friends who know your old secrets and keep them, except when they make a great story when you are all together.

We have so many inside jokes and shared adventures and traditions but one of my favorites is that we always take a photo at each wedding of all the girlfriends with the groom.  Here's the one from our wedding more than 27 years ago.

My sweetie (Isn't he handsome?!) with my beautiful friends.  

And here we all are now.  Seven of us have been friends for more than 40 years!  We just met the immobile girl in the middle.


So, I am baking muffins this morning on actual Muffin Monday and our chosen ingredient is peppers.  If you have been reading along for a while, you know I love spicy things and cheesy makes everything better.  These are perfectly both.

Ingredients
2 cups or 250g flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon English mustard powder
16 oz or 450g extra sharp cheddar
2-3 jalapeño peppers
1-2 Fresno peppers
2 eggs
1 cup or 240ml milk
1/4 cup or 60ml canola

Method
Preheat oven 350°F or 180°C and prepare muffin pan by greasing or lining with paper muffin cups.  When I am baking with cheese, I find that the paper liners stick to my muffins so I usually just grease the pan.  You might want to do the same.

Cut 12 thin slices off of the skinny ends of your peppers and set aside to use for decoration before baking.  Chop the rest of the peppers finely, removing the seeds first, if you don’t like things too spicy.



Grate your cheese.  Set some aside for sprinkling on top of the muffins before baking.


In a large bowl mix together your flour, baking powder, mustard powder and salt.  Add in the big pile of cheese and stir until well mixed.



In a smaller bowl, whisk your milk, canola oil and eggs.



Pour your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients and stir until just combined.


Now fold in the chopped peppers.


Evenly distribute the batter among the muffin cups.


Top with the extra cheese and one slice of pepper per muffin.



Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes in the pan.


Remove the muffins from the muffin pan and finish cooling on a rack.


Enjoy!


Muffin Monday is an initiative by Baker Street, a culinary journey of sharing a wickedly delicious muffin recipe every week.  Drop Anuradha a quick line to join her on this journey to make the world smile and beat glum Monday mornings week after week.  Make sure to go and check out what my fellow bloggers have come up with this week!

Plus learn all you ever need to know about muffins, right here at Muffin 101.



Monday, June 17, 2013

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins


Even before I became a food blogger and got in the habit of posting recipes for you lovely people a couple or three times a week, when I went on holidays, my favorite ones included accommodation with a kitchen:  Vacation rentals from VRBO or most recently from airbnb which allow you to choose the number of beds and bathrooms and well-equipped kitchens.  Right after hanging out on a beach, my favorite holiday activity is poking through foreign markets and grocery stores and cooking up my discoveries.  I know this is contrary to many folks’ idea of a get-away.  In fact, I’ve been told it’s abnormal and eating out and not having to cook is the whole idea of a holiday.  What can I say?  At least my hobby is useful. :)  What’s your favorite thing to do on holiday?  Ever bought a weird ingredient?

What I bought on this trip to Ecuador: plantain flour, quince paste and rib stock cubes.



This week’s Muffin Monday ingredient is oatmeal.  Since I was visiting my father and his wife and I had no idea what their kitchen was like, I brought along some of those little foil cups.  They work pretty good, if you don’t mind that they spread out a little, your muffins end up flattish on top and sometimes a little batter oozes over the sides while baking. 

Ingredients
For the muffin batter:
1 1/2 cups or 190g all purpose flour
1/2 cup or 45g oatmeal
3/4 cup or 170g dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup or 240ml milk
1/2 cup or 115g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1/2 cup chocolate chips (plus extra for sprinkling on after the crumble)

For the crumble:
1/4 cup or about 30g plain flour
1/4 cup or 50g dark brown sugar
2 rounded tablespoons or 30g soft unsalted butter
1/4 cup or 22g oatmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt

Method
Preheat oven 350°F or 180°C and prepare muffin pan by greasing or lining with paper muffin cups or putting those little foil muffin cups on a bigger baking pan.

In a large bowl mix together your flour, oatmeal, dark brown sugar, baking powder and salt.


In a smaller bowl, whisk your milk, melted butter and eggs.



Prepare your topping by mixing together the crumble ingredients with a fork.  Set aside.



Pour your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients and stir until just combined. 


Now fold in the chocolate chips, keeping a few back for topping, if desired.


Evenly distribute the batter among the muffin cups. 


Top with the crumble and scatter a couple of reserved chocolate chips.



Gently press down into the batter.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden.


Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Remove the muffins from the muffin pan. 


Enjoy!



Muffin Monday is an initiative by Baker Street, a culinary journey of sharing a wickedly delicious muffin recipe every week.  Drop Anuradha a quick line to join her on this journey to make the world smile and beat glum Monday mornings week after week.  Make sure to go and check out what my fellow bloggers have come up with this week!

Plus learn all you ever need to know about muffins, right here at Muffin 101.